Review by grimakis
"Mario's back and he has TWO new cars!"
I was about 7 when my mom brought home an N64, and 3 games. Donkey Kong 64, Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, and Mario Kart 64. I absolutely loved Mario Kart 64! It was the best game in the world. My best friend would come over and play N64 with me every 3 days. Then came the Nintendo Gamecube and Mario Kart: Double Dash, and we had fun with that too. Now I hear rumors of Mario Kart, for DS? I had to have it, and when I want something I buy it!
When I set my eyes on the screen when I loaded it up for the first time I was amazed. The graphics were although similar to Mario Kart 64, they were very different. First major difference is that the drivers are actually rendered in 3d! On N64 they were fuzzy with that fake 3d effect. They still seem a little flat on parts, similar to Super Mario 64 DS. I suppose this is because the DS is only capable of producing graphics up to N64 level. The landscape is beautiful, colorful and definitely worth looking at. MK:DD has better graphics. This is because the GCN is a much more technically advanced system, in the sense that it is more powerful. This is acceptable because the DS is a much smaller handheld console, and can't be expected to perform as well as the top of the line home consoles. All I can say is that the graphics in this game are significantly better than those of Super Circuit. If you are used to playing the earlier handhelds, you will be blown away by this game.
All Mario games have had cheerful tunes that really involve you into the gameplay. Although you really don't notice them when you race, I'd say the songs tend to psych you up. In some cases this might even help you to perform better. Most of the songs aren't typical to the Mario series, but are consistent with other Mario Kart installments. There isn't much to say but the sound is very pleasing and Nintendo hasn't let us down yet. (Except for the whole Super Mario Land thing. Using the Can-Can jingle for the Power Star music, just a terrible idea.) The sound quality is very high, and since the DS is equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, you can enjoy this game's soundtrack without disturbing other people.
Mario Kart 64 all over again. Mario Kart rules have reverted back to before MKDD, returning the series to the world of sanity. You can have two people be the same character, each character having a few Karts, and when you get far enough, characters can share Karts. You can also shake you opponents up a bit, allowing you to gain speed if behind an opponent and ram right into them. You can use this to push people off cliffs, into rivers, and off Rainbow Road.
Like all MK games there 16 new tracks. Wait, there are 16 NEW tracks! I forgot to say there are also 16 OLD tracks, some changed others not. That makes 2 Grand Prix and double the fun!
Items have gone back to the way they were before. The triplet shells are no longer juggled, and instead they circle around your kart, protecting it. This also allows you to pick up another item, although you won't be able to use it without first firing off whatever shells you have. Chain Chomp was replaced by Bullet Bill, which transforms you into one, making you invincible, and guides you along the course.. Bloopers ink up your enemies' screens so they cannot see, but you can use the map to stay on course. Boos return for the first time since MarioKart :Super Circuit. Although items may make the game less realistic, they certainly make the game more fun. They allow racers who have fallen behind to catch up, giving them a reason to not put down their DS's and walk away.
The controls are all placed in a good layout for the gameplay. The only drawback is the D-Pad. There is nothing wrong with the D-Pad itself but the fact that if you race for too long your thumb might start to plead with you, asking you to pause the game. Avoid playing TOO intensely and pushing the D-Pad with too much strength. The last thing you want to do is strain your all-important D-Pad thumb. For it too is required to operate the control stick on many consoles.
The touch screen use is very limited during the game, (switching between maps, and using the menu.) but the map the second screen provides are. There are 2 kinds of map, detailed maps, and overview maps. Ground maps show you a small portion of the map you are on, allowing you to see where bananas are, fake item boxes, and all the turns, and such. (Good to use if a blooper inks you!)The overview map shows the course represented by a single line in the shape of the track, and where you are compared to other racers.
Multiplayer Factor: 9/10
It's hard to say NO to Wi-Fi simple because it takes multiplayer to the next level. It is really quite nice that the game can automatically pair you up with other players around the globe. The fact that there are only 20 out of 32 courses on Wi-Fi isn't really a disappointment.
The fact that there is no Battle Mode on Wi-Fi is a disappointment. Multiplayer would have been much more enjoyable had they decided to include it in the Wi-Fi multiplayer. However the levels in Battle Mode make up for that. No more Cookie Land, instead we have Tart Top, a similarly designed arena. There are a group of item boxes around the middle turbo ramp, which makes for chaotic fun. There is also a DS level, not much to say about that. It is just a supersized DS that your Kart is able to move around on. Kind of unique, not all too fun. Pipe Plaza, the next arena, is quite small. The pipes act as portals that allow you to move from one location on the main wall to another. The fact that you can move warp makes the stage seem significantly larger than it really is. Firing red shells is sure to create some mayhem. Lastly but not least, Block City was completely removed. Instead, they brought back Block Fort from the N64 game, a more confusing version of Block City. I can safely say that this was always my favorite battle stage, and I am thoroughly pleased that it has returned.
Replay Value: 10/10
You can keep playing this game because of Wi-Fi. Its just endless fun, no strings attached. Also the Battle Mode and Staff Ghosts will keep you coming. The missions are fun but run out fast. There are characters and Karts to unlock, so these will keep you busy for a while. There will be online racing clans and such, so replay is 10/10.
If you are a fan of Mario Kart games then buy this. Have fun with Single Player and Wi-Fi. Join a racing clan. Share your friend code behind Nintendo's back. It's a great game and that's why it deserves a perfect score.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/22/05, Updated 01/03/11
Game Release: Mario Kart DS (US, 11/14/05)
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